085: Estate Planning Changes Late in Life: Is it Real or is it Elder Abuse?

Often, when an older adult modifies their estate plan, they are doing it of sound mind because of a change in their wishes. However, there are instances when an older adult makes the change because they are being pressured by someone who is taking advantage of their vulnerability and trust. Unfortunately, this happens more often than not. In the legal world, this is referred to as “undue influence,” which is considered a form of elder abuse.

In a new episode of Absolute Trust Talk, host Kirsten Howe is joined by RMO LLP’s founding partner, Scott Rahn. Scott’s firm is a national probate litigation firm focused on representing beneficiaries, heirs, executors, and trustees in estate and probate litigation matters, and families and fiduciaries in contested conservatorships and guardianships. Scott is a frequent contributor to news media such as the BBC and has been named to the Chambers and Partners “2021 High Net Worth Guide” and the “Best Lawyers in America” list by Best Lawyers. He has also been recognized as a “Top Litigator” by the Los Angeles Business Journal and a “Visionary” by the Los Angeles Times. Together, Scott and Kirsten discuss the impacts of changing one’s estate plan later in life and what litigation looks like for a case that includes elder abuse. Some points they will touch on include:

  • How to recognize elder abuse
  • What kinds of tools, strategies, and information are used in elder abuse-related cases
  • What happens if elder abuse is caught too late
  • How to keep a client’s estate plan intact after they pass away

And more!

This is a very important episode that all family members should listen to. As mentioned above, elder abuse happens every day, and many times, right in front of us. If an elder has an estate in place, it’s in place for a reason, and this episode will help you and your family protect their plan and wishes.

Big Three from Episode #085:

  1. Elder abuse is often committed by someone close to the victim, such as a spouse or child. If you ever suspect that your loved one is being taken advantage of, never be afraid to speak out about it.
  2. Estate planning isn’t something anyone wants to do, but it’s one of the easiest ways to keep the peace among family once you or a loved one passes on. If you don’t have a plan in place or need to make updates, now is the time.
  3. Asymmetrical plans are bound to occur, and they won’t always make everyone happy. As a parent, it’s important to make your intentions known by leaving a handwritten note so your wishes are clear and followed.

Time-stamped Show Notes:

0:00 Introduction

1:36 Kirsten discusses the topic of this episode: Making changes to your estate plan later in life.

2:56 Kirsten welcomes Scott Rahn to the show! Scott is the founding partner of RMO LLP and has an extensive background in estate and probate litigation. Welcome, Scott!

4:36 How do we recognize elder abuse in the form of undue influence? Kirsten and Scott discuss what this might look like, i.e., stealing assets or pressuring an older adult into a choice they wouldn’t make otherwise.

6:44 Press play now to hear how Scott approaches an elder abuse case — what tools and strategies he uses for his clients.

8:00 If you have a resistant abuser, a conservatorship may be the only option you have to help protect your elderly loved one, here’s why.

9:45 Kirsten asks Scott how he handles a situation where he may be asked to represent a member of the family who may not have pure intentions when it comes to their loved one who is being abused?

11:30 When it comes to estate planning, it’s never something that someone wants to do. But, as Scott points out, it’s a helpful tool that helps remedy any arguments after a loved one’s passing, allowing family members to mourn together instead of fight.

12:50 What if the elder abuse is caught too late? How does the process change after a loved one passes away? Scott offers his expertise on this subject, offering the two most common scenarios and how they’re normally remedied.

14:02 Kirsten asks Scott if he and his team ever go back and look at what happened during life to help find a solution or details critical to a case. For example, could it help show where mom or dad became compromised?

16:19 How hard is it to win a case against someone committing elder abuse? Tune in to hear Scott’s answer and how he compares a court case to an impressionist painting.

19:46 Do most of these cases go all the way to trial? Do they settle? Scott answers that the vast majority of cases settle. Here’s what you need to know.

21:08 What’s the best way to ensure that a client’s estate plan stays intact once they pass away? You may be surprised to hear that it’s as simple as having an open and honest conversation with the family.

25:10 Did you know? The “best” way to ensure that an asymmetrical plan will be adhered to is to include a handwritten letter explaining your intentions.

26:52 If mom or dad wants to leave behind a video discussing why they built their estate plan a certain way, is that useful in a case, or would that be more difficult to work with? Scott and Kirsten discuss.

28:41 What is a certificate of independent review? Start listening now to hear Kirsten and Scott break down what this process looks like and how it can help protect someone’s estate plan.

32:43: Question from the audience: Do you think that the certificate of independent review process is working effectively?

33:11 Question from the audience: What if the trust is changed to leave a large inheritance to a new second wife?

34:20 Question from the audience: Do the children sometimes get into fights even if the estate is shared equally?

35:31 Question from the audience: Can you have a judge sign off on an estate plan while the loved one is still alive?

36:12 Kirsten poses one last question to Scott: What is going on in the world today that we see such a spike in need for trust and probate litigation?

Get in Touch with Scott!
Scott Rahn
Managing Partner
2029 Century Park East, Ste. 2910
Los Angeles, CA 90067
424.320.9440 | direct
424.320.9444 | main
310.210.4640 | mobile

Resources/Links Mentioned in this Episode:

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